YIDFF 2013 New Asian Currents
Iron Age
An Interview with Jung Ji-yoon (Director)

One Woman’s Way of Living

Q: What motivated you to try to fill the seven-year gap that you spent apart from your mother?

JJ: My original reasons don’t really make an appearance in this film. Human society is filled with wars and many other acts of violence, and I’d thought for a long time about the powerlessness and futility of human beings. Then I experienced the death of two people I knew, and around me, I observed many people who had been working towards a goal, only to confront the realities of life and find themselves compelled to change their way of living. In the midst of all of this, I became keenly aware of my own powerlessness. I began to feel more and more strongly that there were many people I needed to show my regrets and apologize to, and that is what motivated me to make this film.

Q: Your relationship with your mother allowed you to film scenes such as those of her sleeping and applying makeup, but why did you include these scenes in the film?

JJ: In the ten years before I made this film, I only saw my mother three or four times. She may be my mother, but we are still only acquaintances, and our relationship is an awkward one. The scenes that you mention were a way for me to “recreate” the time that we didn’t spend together, and they represent the fragments of my mother that remain in my memory. The only memories I have of my mother are of her sleeping or getting ready to go out, and I don’t remember her as a presence within the home. Another reason that I included the scenes that you mention is that even though my mother and I don’t have a very close relationship, these scenes seem to show her stripped down to her inner self. It is a bare, unadorned state that most of us wouldn’t usually reveal to other people or outsiders. I wanted to document my own feelings when I saw her like this, so I included these scenes.

Q: How did you feel when your mother showed herself to you “stripped down to her inner self”?

JJ: My mother always maintained a “perfect” image, so I was really surprised when she showed herself to me like this. If you watch the film, you can see that my mother’s words and way of speaking are different from the casual language most of us use in our daily lives. But that was the way my mother always talked. When she showed her candid self to me, it made me realize that she had a lonely side to herself as well.

Q: In the narration, why did you refer to yourself in the third person as “she,” rather than as “I”?

JJ: The narration was a way for me to convey my thoughts. However, I sensed that there was a danger that I might push my feelings onto the audience too forcefully. To avoid this, I wanted to create a sense of distance. I looked upon my mother not as the woman who was my parent, but as an individual woman in her own right, and I referred to myself in the third person so that I could be an objective viewer of the revelations that she made about her life. This film is not the story of a mother and a daughter, but rather my objective observations of one woman’s life. I consider this film to be a record of a woman who lived life with all her heart.

Q: Did your mother’s revelations help to fill the gap in your relationship?

JJ: It took time for my mother to tell me about her difficult past, but I think she may have never opened up to me if I hadn’t been her daughter. I think that she revealed herself to me because she loves me.

(Compiled by Ogawa Michiko)

Interviewers: Ogawa Michiko, Kotaki Yukie / Interpreter: Nemoto Rie / Translator: Kato Lisa Somers
Photography: Yamazaki Shiori / Video: Yamazaki Shiori / 2013-10-14